A tongue-in-cheek radio ad in which bookmaker Paddy Power jokes about a man giving away a kidney in return for a decent betting offer has escaped a ban by UK advertising regulator the ASA.
In the ad, aired on TalkSPORT, a voiceover stated that: “Jack Cooper wrote on the Paddy Power Facebook wall ‘I’ll give you anything for a decent offer Paddy!’ We hear you Jack! Anything eh? Well, just chuck us a kidney and in return we’ll give you … this beauty for the golf…” The ad then went on to wish the fictional character “good luck with the dialysis.”
The ad drew objections from 26 members of the public and charity the Kidney Wales Foundation on the grounds that it was offensive and likely to cause distress, particularly to transplant patients, patients undergoing kidney dialysis treatment and their loved ones.
Paddy Power defended the ad by saying that the ad was clearly humorous and that the figurative notion of being willing to exchange a kidney for something desirable had become as much part of the modern lexicon as that of someone being prepared to “give their right arm” away. The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre said that that it did not consider most Talksport listeners would be offended by the commercial, and that it would be taken in the light-hearted spirit in which Paddy Power intended.
While the ASA disputed Paddy Power’s point that the figurative notion of exchanging a kidney for something prized was now as well known as “give my right arm”, it considered that most listeners would understand the “kidney” reference as an extension of the latter phrase, and that Paddy’s “flippant” treatment of dialysis would be understood by most listeners within the context of the ad as “a fictional, slightly ridiculous situation which did not represent real life or real life situations.” The ASA concluded that the ad did not breach governing codes on harm and offence.
An online ad for the sports betting arm of iPoker skin Poker770, however, was not so fortunate, being banned by the ASA for “misleading” punters by not making it clear in the actual ad itself that an offer to refund a losing first bet of £70 would be credited to account in the form of a bonus, and in order to “unblock” any winnings from this, the punter had wager at least five times this amount on particular types of bet at odds of at least 1.50.